Accidental ad click-through could be driving trend for larger smartphone displays

Accidental ad click-through could be driving trend for larger smartphone displays

One widely reported trend for 2013 is the mass adoption of smartphones with 5-inch+ displays, handsets that blur the line between smartphone and tablet. Two years ago, the only ‘phablet' phone was the Samsung Galaxy Note, which boasted a 5.3-inch screen, but now as 2012 draws to a close, rumors abound that HTC, LG and Sony are all expected to debut equally oversized handsets at CES in January. Not to be outdone, Samsung is said to be developing a monster 6.3-inch phablet to replace its current Galaxy Note II, which at 5.5-inches has the largest screen of any smartphone currently on the market.

Since Samsung revealed the sales figures for the Galaxy Note II (5 million units and counting since October), experts have been trying to understand what it is about the oversized handset that is making it so popular. Some have pointed to its stylus while others have suggested that bigger simply is better. But maybe the answer is advertising.

One of the problems with ads on smartphones is that due to their historically limited screen size, ads are either difficult to read or, worse still, too easy to click on by mistake, something referred to in the industry as the ‘fat finger' problem. This is a genuine issue for advertisers who are charged per click-through. An accidental click-through can lead to a disgruntled user. This phenomenon has already led Google to introduce ‘confirmed clicks,' which it launched for banner ads that run in apps on December 13. When a user clicks on an ad, they are prompted by a menu screen that asks if they want to visit the advertiser's site, rather than automatically loading the page.

As Allen Huang, Product Manager, Google Mobile Display Ads explained in a blogpost: "Ads on smartphones are effective, but many of us have at some point clicked on an ad by accident, which ultimately is a bad experience for the user, the publisher, and the advertiser who pays for clicks that may not be valuable. Our team has been analyzing the types of ad formats where accidental clicks are more likely to occur due to ad layout and placement, and are constantly looking at ways that we can combat them."

But of course, another way to avoid accidental click-throughs is to view ads on a screen that is big enough to navigate without triggering ads by mistake.